Saudi authorities have arrested a writer in the conservative oil-rich kingdom as part of a widening crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against Muslim preachers, members of the press and intellectuals.
The rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page that Sultan al-Jumairi had been detained.
The post, however, did not provide any information about the charges leveled against him.
Moreover, Saudi officials have prevented Sheikh Khalid bin Ali al-Ghamadi, a Muslim preacher and imam of the Great Mosque of Makkah, also called al-Haram Mosque, in Mecca from delivering sermons and conducting religious rituals.
Separately, the so-called Specialized Criminal Court in the capital Riyadh has recently held secret trial sessions for 15 anti-regime activists, among them sheikhs, academicians and journalists, on trumped-up charges.
The court has demanded severe penalties against the defendants, including imprisonment for more than 20 years.
Saudi Arabia has recently stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution, and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.
Saudi officials have also intensified security measures in the kingdom’s Shia-populated Eastern Province.
Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.
Saudi officials have sentenced a writer critical of the United Arab Emirates’ regional policies to five years in prison.
The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime. Regime forces have increased security measures across the province.
Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to also target activism.
In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the policies of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif in 2012.